The growing literature on transit countries places much emphasis on the policy interventions of destination countries. In the case of Southeast Asia, Australian policies have disproportionate effects across borders into the region, including those of Indonesia and Malaysia. However, so-called transit countries also counterweigh foreign policy incursions with domestic politics, their own policies of externalizing their borders, and negotiations with destination countries to fund their domestic capacity. While Malaysia and Indonesia share many characteristics as transit countries, they are also noteworthy cases of how they negotiate their own interests in making difficult decisions regarding irregular migration in the region and how responsibility and burdens should be shared.
Malaysian and Indonesian Responses to Australia's Migration and Border Policies
Antje Missbach and Gerhard Hoffstaedter
Reconceptualizing Transit State in an Era of Outsourcing, Offshoring, and Obfuscation
Antje Missbach and Melissa Phillips
There has been growing pressure on states to “solve” the phenomenon of irregular migration. Destination countries have transferred this pressure onto transit countries, which are assumed to have the political will, ability, and means to stop irregular migration. This special section looks at the ways in which transit countries respond to challenges, pressures, and compromises in matters of irregular migration policies through a number of empirical case studies. Making transit countries the main focus, this special section aims to scrutinize domestic policy discourses in the transit countries, which are influenced by regional agreements and economic incentives from abroad but are also shaped by local interests and a wide range of actors. Of special interest is to understand whether the logics of destination countries that favor deterrence and exclusion have been adopted by politicians and the public discourse within transit countries.
The (Re)Configuration of a Transit Country
Soledad Álvarez Velasco
Unlike other transit countries, Ecuador’s position as a transit country has just begun to be publicly addressed, having been more of a strategic public secret than a topic of public interest. Based on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2015 and 2016, this article discusses the dynamics of the (re)configuration of Ecuador as a transit country used by both immigrants and Ecuadorean deportees mainly from the United States to reach other destinations. It argues that this process should be interpreted in light of a series of historical and political elements in tension. The article suggests that the subtle presence of the United States’ externalized border, together with national political inconsistencies, have a repressive as well as a productive effect, which has functioned to produce a systemic form of selective control of transit mobility.
Stemming the Flows of Migrants, but at What Cost?
Since 2015, the European Union has stepped up its efforts to curb irregular migration from sub-Saharan Africa through increasingly restrictive measures targeting transit countries along migratory routes, including Niger. While the EU has heralded the success of its policies to limit migration through Niger, EU migration policies have disrupted the economic system in Agadez, where transit migration has been one of the main sources of income and a factor of stability since the end of the Tuareg rebellions in 2009. This article discusses the impact that EU migration policies may have at the local level in countries of transit, and highlights the potential for these policies to fuel tensions between local and national authorities. The Agadez case study illustrates the importance of a multilevel approach to migration governance that takes into full consideration the role of local authorities and local communities in countries of transit.
The Case of Irregular Migration from Libya
Libya is a significant transit country for irregular migration to Europe and is therefore the site of much effort by external policy makers, notably the European Union. External actors have been unable to formalize workable agreements with Libyan authorities to address or stop onward migration to Europe. Instead, they have been forced to develop arrangements with Libya’s neighboring countries to work around this impasse. This article examines the rhetoric behind efforts by individual European countries and the European Union to implement externally produced migration policies. From crisis narratives to invoking a humanitarian imperative to “save lives,” it is argued that these tropes justify various, at times competing, agendas. This results in almost no tangible improvement to the situation of irregular migrants or the capacity of authorities to deal with irregular migration, with one exception being that of the Libyan coast guard.
Against State Failure or the State Itself?
Although the Czech Republic (CR) is not a favorite destination nor even a transit country for migrants through Europe, the refugee crisis has materialized into a strict state policy of rejection. The CR rejects proposals for European solutions and detains and imprisons immigrants, most of whom are inadvertently arrived there. This preliminary refusal strategy is peculiar to both the political and media spheres (and public opinion) and is described in the opening sections of this work. However, the CR, is also a country in which the tally of immigrants is less than the number of Czechs citizens traveling beyond their national borders to help refugees congregating along the “Balkan Route”, where they frequently outnumber volunteers from other countries. This paper goes on to describe the development of these grassroots Czech volunteer organizations and activities in 2015. From the beginning it was characterized by spontaneity and a lack of hierarchy, with the Internet and social media playing a vital role during mobilization and organization. The methodological section defines how this sample was analyzed and the manner in which it was dealt. Section five summarizes the most important findings of the case study: (1) the results of a questionnaire survey among volunteers, (2) the results of a qualitative content analysis of their communication in social networks. Besides basic mapping steps (features of volunteer’s participation), the analysis attempts to capture motivations for volunteer’s participation. Comparison with selected motivation typologies emphasizes the protective (later the normative) motivation, on which the hypotheses are based regarding the dispute about the national identity of volunteering as an ideological, and therefore foreseeable, dispute.